6 February 2024
Poor Things (2023)
Poor Things (2023)
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Yorgos Lanthimos – Poor Things (2023)

4.5 out of 5 stars



Film Quote Poor Things

Do we recommend watching it?

Most definitely!

A few words about the film.

“Poor Things” is a disturbing film.

It’s disturbing because it takes tropes, dismantles them, and rebuilds them just like the character Godwin Baxter (Willem Dafoe) does with his animals. This attitude permeates every aspect of the film, subtracting from the viewer a certain degree of recognizability that could comfort them. As an example, the aversion demonstrated by the direction (Yorgos Lanthimos) to easily reproducible postcard images of the places explored by Bella (Emma Stone): none of the cities is presented in its canonical postcard image, but is instead taken in its characteristic, remodeled, and pushed to the extreme (the light for Lisbon, the bohemian claustrophobia for Paris).

It’s disturbing because it manages to be grotesque, yet surreal (evoking Luis Buñuel). Also, because it has moments of comedy and unexpected dramatic slaps (the discourse on social classes). It’s disturbing because at times it offers the experience of a trip, a rounded visual perception that recalls the makeup worn by Emma Stone during the film and that almost seems to increase the size of her large, round eyes, as if they were wide-angle lenses open on the stage of the world – a world that offers perceptual distortions at every corner.

It’s disturbing because it never allows the viewer to settle on any of the themes it addresses: as soon as it seems to enter what could be seen as the central nucleus, it shifts to a new shore – just as Bella does in her adventure – not leaving behind, however, what has been touched upon, but rather accumulating always new aspects, expanding its thematic suitcase. Does it touch on the theme of obsession? Certainly. Does it speak about freedom? Clearly. And the theme of scientific research? It cannot be said that it’s absent. Can an ethical reasoning be traced? Yes. And culture? Present, especially in the role of inhibitor of gratuitous violence. Does it talk about the parent-child relationship? It does. Does it speak about the man-woman relationship? Of course. The woman-woman one? Yep. Is there the theme of sexism? And that of feminism? Both present. Does it say anything about the relationship between man and God? Absolutely yes, if we consider that Bella’s father’s (creator?) nickname is “God”. And death? It’s present everywhere (Bella was Victoria Blessington when she decided to jump from a bridge; the illness of Godwin Baxter; the parts of human bodies). Identity? Who is Bella: Victoria’s child (by the way, is it a boy or a girl?) or the adult who offers the body (parent!) to the childish brain? Or a third entity? Is identity body or mind? Is there a difference or distinction between the two?

It’s disturbing because it manages to make the viewer uncomfortable even when it teases the voyeuristic aspect: one moment we’re told that Bella has the brain of a child and in the next scene we see her grappling with the discovery of sex: what are we looking at? A child? An adult? So, is the discourse on the body and sexuality also disturbing? It cannot be denied. Is it a gender discourse? Does it seek the categorization of this theme? No, it avoids it with all its might. And perhaps this is the most interesting side of the film which never settles on a category of thought. Where some of the criticisms of the film focus on the fact that it’s a work that remains on the surface touching an industrial amount of themes, without ever delving into them, I find the opposite to be true: the true depth of the film comes from its entirety – Bella grows quickly and does so by absorbing everything, just like a child, and the wide angles used throughout the film, in essence, seem to tell the perception of the child itself who wants to welcome (and possess) everything that is in front. Also, throughout the film, Bella Baxter shuns cages and prisons, just as the film evades categories of meaning and interpretive chains. The “creature” is the film itself that, like a child, swallows, absorbs, regurgitates, and expels the themes with surprising speed, always maintaining an intense passion for each of them (in the initial sequences Bella eats – and sometimes spits – with extreme passion). The film, like Bella, grows. Precisely for this reason, it manages to go deep, because it reflects the entire life experience and acquires complexity in the sum of the components, preferring commas, instead of periods, spaces in the frame, instead of (only) editing cuts, anarchy, instead of rules.

“Poor Things” is a disturbing film because it’s a box whose functioning seems magical, almost esoteric. It’s disturbing in the sense that it forces you to think and doesn’t let you pass through with distraction. But it’s also an entertaining film. It makes you laugh, but it also makes you feel. It’s a film, but also ten films in one. It combines, as often in Lanthimos, death and life, stasis and movement (the hair that lengthens as the only element of a body that instead does not follow the growth of the mind), in a game of opposites that do not repel each other, nor attract, but coexist. “Poor Things” is many things, but it is also, in summary, an excellent film that breaks the rather uniformed panorama of film production in its visual dynamics, in its thematic components, and in the usual interpretative ways.

“Poor Things” is a brave film.

“Where can I watch it?”

he film is still in theaters and not yet available, as of the publication date, on any streaming platform. However, since the streaming landscape is constantly changing, we invite you to take a look at this JUSTWATCH link, which will tell you where to find it. If you can, don’t miss it in theaters, because it’s really worth it.

“Should I watch it, then?”

Well, you now know what we think about it but if you haven’t watched it are still unsure whether to do it or not, take a look at the trailer.

Now, nothing left to do here, you just have to go and watch it or if you already did and have something to say about this movie, feel free to leave a comment at the end of the page and say whatever you like about the film. On this site, we are always happy to host others’ opinions on cinema and why not, open a debate if you don’t agree with us on this.

Something else?

To read more of these film “pills”, please visit our dedicated section. Or, if you’re after a more-in-depth look at some films and/or filmmaking techniques more than just a few words, please have a look at our Film Analysis page.
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